Self employed? You may now be entitled to unemployment benefits
There are certainly advantages to being self-employed, such as being able to set your own hours, work wherever you want and take advantage of the flexibility that employees are often unaware of. But self-employment also has a downside, namely the lack of a regular paycheck, the lack of paid time off, and the inability to capitalize on some of the benefits employees are entitled to, such as unemployment insurance. .
The latter is important, because unemployment benefits can act as a lifeline when workers lose their jobs and need money to pay their bills. Normally, self-employed people don’t have access to unemployment benefits, so if you’re an independent contractor for two main clients and they both drop you in the same week, you’re out of luck. But thanks to the just-approved $ 2 trillion COVID-19 relief program, self-employed workers may have the option of receiving unemployment benefits if their incomes have been affected by the ongoing crisis.
A lifeline for the self-employed
Many self-employed workers have seen their incomes deteriorate in recent weeks. Some of the hardest hit workers are performing artists, cosmetic service providers, event planners, travel agents, and ride-sharing drivers. In a nutshell, any freelance work that cannot be done remotely is likely impacted, and so are those whose work involves planning trips or gatherings that are currently prohibited or poorly advised. Fortunately, the unemployed are not on their own during the current crisis.
If your income has been reduced by COVID-19 and you are self-employed, you can apply for unemployment benefits in your state. You will generally be entitled to $ 600 per week (which is the amount of all unemployment benefits), plus half of the average unemployment benefit in your state. To be eligible for benefits, however, you will need to prove that you have lost work due to the pandemic, whether it is because you cannot perform your duties safely or that you are stuck in quarantine. You’ll also need to submit information relating to your income, which might require you to go through your records if you don’t already have these details readily available.
But filing claims may not go smoothly
The fact that unemployment benefits are extended to the self-employed is a good thing, but since the start of the week many workers in this category have struggled to register them. Some state filing systems have required applicants to submit a recent W-2 tax form – a form that self-employed workers don’t get – thus causing a heist. And since many states’ online systems are initially overloaded, you may find the process of applying for unemployment benefits surprisingly difficult.
But don’t give up. If your income has been affected because of COVID-19, you deserve all the relief you can get, even if it means being very patient as you navigate a process that can be intimidating for salaried workers and the unemployed.